Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Zen and the art of Charlie Wilson's war

I'm not much of a TV fan, but once in a while it is quite pleasant to watch. A few days ago, finding myself at home with nothing much to do, I switched on the TV and flipped channels past Rakhi's swayamvar and suchlikes, stopping finally at the film Charlie Wilson's War on, I think, HBO.
It's a terrific film, and claims to be based on facts. It shows how one US Congressman may have influenced the course of history.
Congressman Charlie Wilson happened to spot on TV that the Afghan mujahideen were getting smashed by the Soviet Union because the Soviets had far better weapons. The mujahideen were fighting using a few WW II rifles while the Soviets had tanks and aircraft. So Wilson decides to lobby for more money and weapons for the mujahideen.
The rest is known. The mujahideen get their Stingers and their AKs and RPGs and eventually bleed the Soviet Union pretty much to death.
When the Soviets leave, the Congressman has a huge party. He asks CIA's station chief in Afghanistan why he doesn't look overjoyed. The guy narrates a Zen story. It goes something like this:

An old farmer had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"We'll see," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"We'll see," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"We'll see," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"We'll see" said the farmer.

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